New York Personal Injury Law Blog » Law Practice


October 7th, 2008

I’m Sorry You’re A Jerk (Lawyering 101: Professionalism)

Over at Legal Antics, Nicole Black has a great letter from Dallas Attorney Jeff Murphrey to his opponent in a case, Dale Markland. The problem stems, apparently, from Markland’s failure to be accommodating on a deposition date when Hurricane Ike blew threw town, causing damage to Murphrey that needed to be attended to. This included excrement and other raw sewage and other nasty details. His apology letter is an instant classic. (Addendum: You can read both sides of the story if you want to decide who was the discourteous one. See update below.)

Contrast that letter to a recent conversation I had with opposing counsel in one of my cases. He made a motion and I needed more time to respond. It went like this:

Me: I need another two weeks on the xyz matter to put in my papers.
Him: Do you have a reason?
Me: Yes
Him: What is it?
Me: I would grant you the same courtesy if you asked.
Him: Good enough for me.

The lesson to all those that think they can gain some litigation advantage when the other side has a problem? What goes around comes around. The professional courtesy you seek two years from now either on this case or an unrelated one, either because you have a conflict or your kid became ill at a very inconvenient time, will not be returned if you fail to extend those courtesies yourselves.

(Also at Above the Law, WSJ Law Blog, Houston Press, and no doubt elsewhere)
Updated 10/13/08: Recipient of “I’m Sorry” Letter Fights Back with New Website To Regain Reputation

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